Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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China Approves Landmark Law for Foreign NGOs

China NGO Law

(Photo : Damir Sagolj - Pool/Getty Images) China's President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as they meet at the Great Hall of the People on April 28, 2016 in Beijing, China.

The Chinese Government has approved China's first NGO law that has been specifically designed for non-government organizations operating in the mainland, a move that aims to protect the nation's national security.

The 54-point law, which was approved last Thursday during the bi-monthly session of the top legislature, outlines the parameters that would guide foreign NGOs as they conduct their activities in China, reported China Daily.

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The law, among others, clarifies the registration process, operational rules and liabilities of NGOs, together with measures they need to follow during the course of their work in the country.

Scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, China's NGO law requires all international non-government organziations operating in China to be registered and regulated by central or provincial-level police authorities.

However, this stipulation has raised concerns among some NGOs who think that their operations and activities might be affected once the law is implemented.

"Such worries are totally unnecessary if they follow Chinese laws," pointed out Zhang Yong, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

He noted that overseas NGOs have in fact made major contributions to China's development, assuaging fears that China's NGO law will negatively impact on the work being carried out by these groups.

To date, there is no official figure on how many overseas NGOs are working in China, but Chinese media estimates them to be around 6,000 which are mostly engaged in environmental protection, education and poverty relief efforts.

The adopted NGO law has also undergone several revisions.

For instance, a provision in the earlier draft which required exchanges between Chinese and foreign colleges, hospitals, and science and engineering research institutes was dropped from the law's final version.

Moreover, the approved law also removed the restriction which allowed each NGOs to set up only one office on the mainland.

But as a condition, the number and locations of these offices must first be approved by the Central Government's regulatory authorities.

Guo Linmao, a member of the commission, explained that the rights of these  foreign NGOs will be fully protected, but those which break China's laws will be punished accordingly.

"A very limited number of overseas NGOs have conducted activities in China that harm our national security or interests," he said, highlighting the importance of China's new NGO law.

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